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Evolution of the American Public High School: From Prep School to Prison to New Partnerships [Secure eReader]
eBook by Lyle E. Schaller

eBook Category: Spiritual/Religion
eBook Description: Lyle E. Schaller contends that large public high schools have naturally tended to evolve into dysfunctional institutions. He examines the power of the social, physical, economic, demographic, religious, geographic, and work environments to influence human behavior related to the public secondary educational system and suggests ways in which schools can learn lessons from other organizations, such as major league baseball, the business world, churches, the military, and researchers. The key assumption of this book is that students represent the number-one constituency of today's public high school. The students' perception of their school environment is more likely to influence their behavior than the perception of that same environment held by a principal or a school board member or a teacher or a parent or a taxpayer.

eBook Publisher: United Methodist Publishing House/Abingdon Press, Published: 2002
Fictionwise Release Date: July 2003


The first public high school in the United States was founded in Boston in 1821, but for all practical purposes the public high school in America was a creation of the last decade or two of the nineteenth century. One hundred years later most of the large public high schools had become dysfunctional institutions.

One reason for that growing number of large public high schools was that in the 1930-80 era, the legislatures in most states were persuaded to provide financial incentives to encourage the creation of large schools, including the elementary and middle grades as well as large high schools. By the mid-1960s it had become apparent that the heart of this debate was over criteria. The criteria used by most of the professional educators supported the trend toward big schools. Bigger is better! The criteria based on the welfare of the students supported those favoring small schools. Smaller really is better! That debate is far from resolved today.

In the year 2000 nearly 14 million adolescents were enrolled in grades 9 to 12 in approximately 20,000 public secondary schools. (These numbers exclude 5,300 special education schools, those that enroll grades 6-12, and alternative schools with a combined enrollment of 1.2 million.) One-fourth of those 20,000 schools reported an enrollment of 1,000 or more. Another 30 percent reported an enrollment of 500 to 999. Slightly over one-half (55 percent) of the secondary schools accounted for 78 percent of the enrollment. The remaining 22 percent of the enrollment, or 3 million students, was scattered among the 7,500 smaller public secondary schools.

The focus of this book is on the big public high schools with an enrollment of 800 or more. These are the one-third of the public high schools that include two-thirds of the students in grades 9-12. At the extreme end of the size spectrum, the approximately 900 very large public high schools with an enrollment of 2,000 or more account for one out of six students in grades 9-12 or 10-12.

Why have these large public high schools naturally tended to evolve into dysfunctional institutions? That is the theme of chapter 6.

Copyright © 2000 by Abingdon Press

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